Once Upon a Time in the Bolivian West
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
After spending a year riding the constantly undulating roads in the Cordilleras of Perú and Bolivia, it was time to switch it up just a bit and head out for the altiplano of Bolivia’s volcano-laden western region. This is the area where most cycle tourists head when passing through Bolivia and it’s also the place where the country really earns its reputation of vast open spaces with an endless array of sandy/corrugated roads, and other-worldly landscapes. (more…)
International Kook Exchange Program: Full Power, No Shower
Words by Jorja Creighton, photos by Jorja Creighton and Mar-Del
It was Independence Day, July 4th. In the trailer park town of Eagle Point in Oregon four of us took refuge and slept on the steps of the local church – intimidated by the general hoo-ha of the patriotic celebrations. On the concrete under the watchful eye of JC while fireworks exploded and smoke settled. My first Independence Day. (more…)
The neon hub of the American West is Las Vegas. An oasis for many, plopped just outside the California / Nevada border, in an otherwise inhospitable zone if it weren’t for the constant intravenous drip of water and tourism capital.
As Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi outlined in their manifesto, Learning from Las Vegas, the “ugly and ordinary architecture, or the decorated shed,” epitomizes man’s ruin. My interpretation of this architectural masterpiece is man’s inability to create anything that competes visually with the natural world, just beyond the boundaries of this neon wasteland. This is not a cynical view of development, or architecture in general, rather a point of departure for this particular trip.
“The human argument for setting aside vast stretches of the American desert as parks and preserves and wilderness and plain open space always includes the importance of unspoiled vistas. As the only real difference between Las Vegas and Death Valley is that we made a strategic decision to fill one with casino hotels and insurance company headquarters and neighborhoods while leaving the other more or less intact for the mutual benefit of humanity and the plants and creatures and ecosystems in such a mostly wild place.” Ken Layne, Desert Oracle, #016.
Death Valley prides itself on being the Hottest, Driest, and Lowest National Park. It, along with the deserts of Africa and the Middle East, is one of the hottest places on Earth, with temperatures exceeding 120ºF frequently during the summer months. In fact, the highest temperature ever recorded was 134ºF (56.7ºC) on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek. As its name implies, Death Valley is indeed made up of a series of basins, bordered by mountain ranges, of varying geologic characteristics. From the striped strata of the Last Chance Range, to the colorful, mineral-rich Funeral Mountains and the alien-like, almost science fiction-native, Amargosa Range. (more…)
420.69th annual Nutmeg Nor’easter
Words by Ultra Romance, photos by Erin @erinmarie.gordon, Jon Weekes @gungywump, Jamie M @jamiemurrett, and “Big Janet”
I’ve lived in the same area of shoreline Connecticut my entire life. My home is a garage artist’s studio that I just so happen to share with my mom’s gardening tools. Paris, Milan, Clinton, CT. As weather permits, I return home about 4 months out of the year; always being sure not to miss the splendor of autumn; the beauty of death as the colors fall, ushering in the grim shadows of wintär. (more…)
We are three prospectors and this is our creed:
For over a hundred years, Death Valley has had its minerals extracted by machine and mule. Not just for gold and silver, either. Prospectors scoured the mountains for borax, antimony, copper, lead, zinc, and tungsten, packing out their load by mule. We are modern day Prospectors, however, we are not seeking riches, yet experiences, of which will be beaten into our soul by miles of washboarded and rocky roads. Our mules are our bicycles and we’ll take only photos, leaving no trace, taking nothing from this land. It’s given enough over the decades and its scars are still visible on the surface.
There’s no death in this valley, but life, at a micro scale, so nuanced that without the pace of the bicycle, might be passed over, unnoticed. (more…)
In Los Angeles, millions of people vacate the city in a yearly migration, creating compelling imagery, representing the trouble with car culture. While we prefer to move about the city by bicycle, we too can’t help but flee its confines by automobile. Yet, in doing so, our attempts are always to get as far away from modern civilization as possible, or at least that’s what I tell myself everytime we load the Land Cruiser up and head out of town.
Sure, I’d rather embark on a bicycle tour during a holiday but when our friend Aimee invited us to the Oak Flat Fire Lookout in the Sequoia National Forest for a Turkey Day celebratory dinner, we couldn’t resist. So, there we were the day before Thanksgiving, escaping LA for the solitude found in its neighboring National Parks and National Forests. Luckily, we were long gone by the time the freeways turned into light shows… (more…)
Geology Through Bikepacking
Photos and words by Locke Hassett
As humans, we seek exploration of new places and the lessons that such exploration may bring; self-discovery, physical challenge, humility, solitude, community, and unforgettable views to name a few. We refer to this as recreation, which comes from the term “to re-create”. These endeavors are valuable, perhaps necessary, to the self. But, if we only learn about ourselves, the amount that we can give back to the world that allows us the privilege to explore can be limited. Ever so often, we must explore for reasons beyond understanding and re-create ourselves. We must explore with intention and inquiry. If the intention is set to learn not only about ourselves but about the landscape; it’s natural history and current state, we just might be able to become stewards of its future.
The Geology through Bikepacking course offered at Prescott College explores the geology, geography, and ecology of the Colorado Plateau through 3 different bikepacking trips over the course of a month. This course provides an opportunity to learn about a landscape by traveling through it. It uses the bicycle as a means not only for recreation, but for education. This is the story. (more…)
So, you might have noticed this already but our server accidentally deleted our 2015 image bucket, including many of my favorite Ride Reportage entries. When possible, I’ll be re-upping these stories and linking it here to the Radar to encourage everyone to revisit the entry. We’ve got a lot of incredible rides back-logged here on the Radavist, so expect some prime throwback entries being brought back to life. Got one you’d like to request? Drop it in the comments.
This week’s entry is Death in the Valley, by team AWOL. I wonder how much these guys have learned since their last attempt?
Over the past week, nature flipped a switch. Suddenly, like migrating birds, the 100º weather had flown to the southern hemisphere, leaving behind clouds, cooler temperatures and even traces of precipitation. Basically, the perfect ingredients for successful dirt bike rides. All summer, I’d stuck to shorter, partially shaded rides, or banked on getting in my mileage before the heat of the day and now I felt comfortable taking off up my favorite dirt climbs. (more…)
Down the Ladder into Hell
Words and 35mm film photos by Stan Engelbrecht
I don’t remember when I first heard of ‘Die Hel’ (The Hell). It’s the kind of thing that comes to you like a mysterious rural legend – a rumour of a tiny community of farmers living for decades in complete isolation in an impenetrable valley paradise. More than anything, I wanted to go to ‘Die Hel’. Places and people like this have always fascinated me. South Africa has for many, many years had a complex social and political landscape, and I always like to imagine that these individualist pioneers left whatever country they came from to escape some kind of governmental or religious ideology, and when faced with the same developing in their newfound home, they were driven further into the natural world. To live simply, in peace, with nature as their surround. (more…)